February 27, 2008

Searching for Angela Shelton

In this week's film, the road functions in different ways for those involved. I think from Angela's standpoint, the road is a freeing, empowering way to explore the various facets of American women and their struggles, revolving around abuse, as a means to and end of her own unresolved issues. The road acts as a common connection between women that, although related through superficial ways (this being their name) and deeper ways (the problems that many of them have suffered), have extremely different backgrounds and lifestyles.

Through the road emerges a sense of unity and understanding. I think that the element of the names made for a good concept to bring them together in another way, but was not all that necessary to achieve the mission or message. And although the way the "experiment" was conducted had questionable factors, and filmmaker Angela did not seem to make the personal strides one expected, the experience as a viewer seeing the different personal accounts was successful. I think that Angela, although well-intentioned, used the camera irresponsibly in the sense that, even if unintended, she came off very self-oriented. This tainted the film in many aspects, and I found it frustrating to watch because if someone else had taken on this journey in a different way, the results could have been much more significant. Changes that I would make would have been to not personally be a severe victim of the issues about which I am venturing. Although it would be important to understand the struggles and abuse on some level, I think removing the element of a self-exploring adventure would have created more focus on the people that seemed to be the more important focus. I feel that having too many personal feelings towards the subject complicates things and turns the mission into far too much personal therapy and selfish intent. You can't love others until you love yourself, they say, and I think that goes for help such as this.

February 26, 2008

The Road to Discovery and Healing

In Searching for Angela Shelton, the road is used as a healing process for Angela. I really enjoyed this documentary. With each mile she travels and each women she meets, she takes apart of them with her for strength to finally face her sexual abusive father. I liked the way she presented the film. She uses her story as a means to connect with the other Angelas she meets on the road and allows for a strong bonding to occur, ignoring their economic differences or race. It shows the true human connection in its rawest form. It is the connection of struggle and the depiction of such a real struggle allows for the documentary to bring light to a real issue and the impact of it on women years after. I do not believe that Angela has any responsibility but to tell her story. Though many believe it to be possibly repetitive, one must keep in mind that she is meeting a new Angela every time and is not trying to put the spotlight on herself, but to simply tell the truth and use her story as a means for connection with the women. The story is about Angela. It is her story of her struggles in her life and her healing process to face her offender, her father. She uses the other Angelas in the film for strength, with each story in every state coming closer and closer to her father; Angela becomes stronger, taking their stories with her. I love the way she presents the documentary. It is her quest for identity and healing, though her father's denial does not allow for closure, I believe it is the stories of the women that inspire her to find herself and a new beginning. It is powerful and real. Her documentary shows the bond women have and the support they give each other, allowing for rebirth and a new beginning even after years of sexual abuse brainwashing them to think that they are “lower than a fucking dog.�

the road and such

It is my opinion, and I hold this very strongly, that Angela did a great job in making this film. The road played a crucial role in the making of this film. If every Angela had simply gone to her, the longing, searching for her self stolen by her sexually abusive father would have have been unfulfilled in my mind. This story is about her search for recovery, not really about the other Angelas. Some see this as a problem but I see this as a great attribute to the film as a whole. If there were no personal story, how emotional would the story be? As far as the extent of responsibly Angela used, I don't think she had any responsibility but to portray the truth. She used the information in an incredibly responsible way regardless, though. She could have exploited these girls, but instead she used their interview to create a film meant to help girls who were victims of sexual abuse. Call me utilitarian, but I think to criticize this film as irresponsible is, to be blunt, snobbish and makes me think that those who hold this opinion need to find something in the world that make them happy because it sounds a lot like the casting of the first stone has been made. I challenge you who think this way to do something more effective for the cause.

February 25, 2008

Searching for Angela Shelton

Searching for Angela Shelton is very intriguing movie, mainly because there are a lot of things going on within the movie. My first thought about the road: it was never ending like the movie! But after further thinking and reflection I realized that the road signified more than I initially realized. The road really encompassed her journey. In her quest to find other Angela’s, the road was not a straight line from city to city or in a logical order. That was mirrored even within the editing and telling of her own story. The film jumped around a lot, I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster of my own.
In class we talked about how this movie was uniquely different from the other films because it was more through the female gaze then through the male gaze. I would like to challenge that because I felt her whole journey on the road, in the film and through her life revolved around unfinished business with her dad. He became the center of the story. I even felt like he some what had control over the viewer as well. I don’t believe the male gaze was completely hidden, for the most part I feel like it never went away. The issues that were talked about revolved around violence against women, other issues were graphically sexual—all of which the male gaze was present. Also, how can the male gaze go away when it is the dominant norm? It would like saying that whiteness or heterosexuality can exist at times and not exist at other times.

Angela Shelton & the Road to Recovery

In this documentary, the road functions quite differently than we've seen it in past films. It doesn't seem to be the focus, instead it is the connecting force that brings these women together. The road is filmed without much emphasis on the driver/traveler giving the viewer a first person experience. This perspective shows how every woman could be on that very road. At the same time, however, Angela Shelton (filmmaker) uses the camera power to over represent or under represent different women throughout her journey. She focuses much of the journey on herself rather than equally representing each of the women and her story. This is an abuse of power as a documentary filmmaker, but I believe in order for this kind of dialogue to emerge (one that exposes abuse and recovery) she had to pick certain stories to focus on, including her own. This movie was intended to be a vehicle for women to connect and talk about their personal experiences with one another. I think it succeeds in this to an extent but also has a flawed and simplified view of "solidarity" and "sisterhood" amongst all women. Angela does not take into account race, class, age, ability, and sexuality disparities between the women interviewed. What she did accomplish, however, was an important discussion on abuse and the figurative road to happiness.

Searching for Angela Shelton...

Searching for Angela Shelton raises a very important topic and tells a story that needs to be told but Shelton's abuse of the camera tells it in a very irresponsible way. The way she brings her subjects to such a fragile and unpredictable place (especially the anonymous Angela Shelton) tells me that she is more interested in making a dramatic documentary than actually helping the other Angela Sheltons. In this film, the road functions as a metaphor for Angela Shelton's personal journey to acceptance of her tramatic childhood. If I were making this documentary, I might have spent more time developing the stories of the other Angela Sheltons and utilized more responsible filming tactics. In fact, I probably wouldn't have made this into a film at all. A book would better tell these womens' stories and most likely result in more honest accounts. Many of them seemed very uncomfortable with the idea of being on camera and often said that they wouldn't for fear of hurting their families.

Searching For The Other Angela Sheltons

Searching For Angela Shelton is this: a woman named Angela Shelton (who seems very much in love with herself) wants to embark on a quest to, appropriately, meet and dissect all the other Angela Sheltons living in the U.S. as a way to represent and connect the stories of women. It's a premise that might otherwise be dismissed as a vanity project had Shelton not learned along the way that a good majority of her subjects have suffered under sexual abuse, particularly as children (even more disturbing, most of their abusers were never charged). Herself a victim of incest, Shelton decided to shift from her original idea and zero in on the serious (and often muffled) topic of the abuse of women, and how the painful and violent pasts of these Angela Sheltons have shaped their hopes for the future. Engrossing and extremely admirable, right? So how come we got only one Angela Shelton (over and over and OVER) for the price of so many others? Searching For Angela Shelton should be empowering; it is only in the sense that the director had the opportunity to conduct this project, and that she stumbled on so many remarkable "I survived..." examples, despite how briefly they're examined. Otherwise, it's done so selfishly (and awkwardly, thanks to its distractingly contrived set-ups and overall poor editing) that it's hard to give the woman at the center a whole lot of credit.

The road in Searching For Angela Shelton could be argued as a tool for uniting women from around the country, but it seemed ultimately useless as a narrative structure because it was depicted so literally. We as the audience are simply guided along on the director's route (and provided a hefty amount of clichéd driving montages), but why? We already know that the filmmaker is on a road trip, as she introduces each new Angela Shelton by their name and the city they inhabit. It seems that the road footage is mostly used to illustrate, enhance or fabricate a mood that Director Angela really, really NEEDS us to feel, and the number of loaded, "emotional" images grows exhausting: among others, there's a trailer park, a tattered American flag, a close-up of the words "Father" and "Wrong" on a church message board, and grim city rain against the voice-over conversations with the clearly unstable "anonymous Angela." The visuals are plunked in as filler for the moments that have no obvious visual footage to boast. Worse, Director Angela's narcissistic habit of being in EVERY IMAGE immensely reduced the film's original potential. When not scanning over those brooding, black and white stills of her "talking on the phone", the camera simply couldn't get enough of our filmmaker crying, complaining or talking about herself in such a ridiculous, inflated manner that you can't help but wonder if she's kidding.

I would argue that Director Angela abused the camera, in fact. Not only did she open up a number of old wounds, but she leaves the audience completely confused as to how she dealt with each subject's stories aside from using them to bring it back to her. What happened to these other Angela Sheltons AFTER the camera was turned off and the crew was moved on? An assurance that she was leaving these women with at least a bit of information about where they could go to talk to someone or how they could help others in a similar situation would have been nice. While her attempts to turn the film into a portrait of women as a unified body so as to remedy the problem of abuse in America were promising, they seemed too often overshadowed by…her. Whether or not it was intentional, Director Angela edited the film in such a way that undermined the other women’s stories with her own blather (at one point in the film, the subjects are uncomfortably asking HER questions).

Personally, I would have focused more on the scattered Angela Sheltons and how their stories must be told, and less on how I "healed" from it (which, after we see Director Angela's meltdown, complete with...crayons, we're not so sure how she's doing). Alternative voices are the key to a documentary, not an over-dramatized personal account. And, I would absolutely, absolutely have a counselor along for the ride to provide actual resources. In the end, Searching For Angela Shelton offers very little solution, only discomfort; the simplification of a complex issue that deserves less of a filmmaker's quest for personal answers and more of a critical debate. With each pit stop, the strength of a new Angela Shelton should prove necessary, so it's a shame their stories are so simplified for the director's sake.

Angela Shelton's Use and Abuse

The camera has a huge role in what is seen and not seen in this documentary. Searching for Angela Shelton tries to show the hardships of women, named Angela Shelton throughout America. Although her attempts to help women in America “break their silence� she is unsuccessful and irresponsible in doing so. The road functions in this film as a way for Angela Shelton to get her name out in the public. She not only revolves this movie around herself AND her name, she also makes shirts for what seems to be publicity. Angela Shelton contacts many women with the same name and tries to find their story. The problem with the camera shots in this film is the editing. Angela Shelton only needs to put in what she wants into the film. Since her documentary is about child abuse and domestic violence, it seems that anything said by the “Angelas’� other than that wouldn’t be used in the film. The idea of helping women in general speak and understand they have rights are women is a great idea, but Angela Shelton’s centered focal point, takes the great ideas away. Shelton uses the film to promote herself rather than telling the stories of others. Many of the other women seemed like examples for abuse cases in America but everything stays centered around Angela Shelton. At the end of this film it seems like nothing emerges from the road. Nothing is solved, no one seems to receive guidance and it seems as if wounds and old memories were opened without any closure. Angela does not use her camera power responsibly. Angela has all the power in this film and uses to only for herself. She doesn’t take into consideration how the other women might feel after this film. There is no sign of psychologists on site for help or counselors for the women. This would have helped tremendously in assuring safety for these women. The anonymous woman on the phone seems to be the most unstable and yet Angela Shelton hassles her. Her irresponsibility to help take care of this woman shows Shelton’s true self-centeredness. Angela could have successfully made this film if it was more about the other Angela Sheltons. She also could have focused on their stories rather than herself. It would have been nice to see some professionals on site helping with these issues as well. If Angela Shelton would have been responsible and caring towards the other “Angelas’� I feel this film could have had a completely different outcome.

Searching for Angela Shelton

Throughout this documentary we viewed the journey of a woman searching for unity with other women throughout the United States, while she searched for herself and confronted her own past. The road functioned in this film as a means of connecting these women. As the filmmaker, Angela Shelton searched for other Angela Sheltons, the road connected them to one another, this was shown by the visual of the map that the filmmaker used as a graphic while showing where she had been and where she was going. As she made her way from one part of the country to another, she was dealing with difficult abuse issues of her past, in order move on and look toward the future. Meeting with different women, and sharing her story, ahd hearing their stories allowed for a healing process for all of the women.
The camera funcitons throughout this film as a tool for women's voices to be heard. The camera does not use the typical male gaze approach when the women are being interviewed. The camera stays central to the faces of the women being interviewed, and doesn't pan up and down for body shots. I think the camera throughout this documentary functioned as a mechanism to put a face to the name Angela Shelton, and allow the different stories to be heard. By staying mainly on the faces of the women being interviewed, the body is less emphasized which allows the impact of the stories being told to be heard without distraction. This is also interesting because as many of the women discuss stories of abuse in which their bodies were objectified and used, the filmmaker I believe makes a conscious decisoion to not objectify the bodies of these women further by using closer camera shots and not filming from the traditional male gaze.

Searching for Angela

It is time to liberate the New Woman from the Old by coming to know her-by loving her for getting by, for getting beyond the Old without delay, by going out ahead of what the New Woman will be, as an arrow quits the bow with a movement that gathers and separates the vibrations musically, in order to be more than her self.

This film, Searching for Angela Shelton, has a different direction compared to the other films we have studied thus far in the semester. The road is not the central function of the film. The main focus is on the individual women (Angela Sheltons) that have been beaten or sexually abused. Their stories are severe and very personal. This documentary gets to the core of many dark issues that are not often talked about in society (rape, incest, abuse). These struggles and how each woman overcomes these struggles are the focus of the documentary. This experience showed these women that they were not alone and that they could over come their troubled pasts and move forward.
The road ends up making it possible for Angela to make this journey to meet all of the Angela Sheltons in the country. Her journey is mainly to find out who she is as person. Who is Angela Shelton? But in the end, Angela must go home where she belongs and start HER new life. The road is one of success for Angela and many others.
I think that the documentary was wonderful. At times it was really harsh and descriptive, but sexual abuse is violent and painful. I believe Angela showed a great side of this dark story that has not been told like this before. The only thing I would have done differently is the ending of the film. I thought it was shocking to see her with little clothing on at the end bathing in water. I didn't think it was appropriate for the documentary.

I found her...

For me, Searching for Angela Shelton is a film about a woman who sets out on the road to piece together who she is and what it means to be a woman. In the beginning, I feel that Angela doesn't exactly know what her documentary is going to say. She knows that many of the Angela's have been abused but Angela is still unsure of what her film will say and what the story is. In the end after the encounter with her father, Angela discovers that she is the only one who can give herself closure to her childhood experiences. To me, that is the story that Angela tells.

To make this discovery, Angela interviews the other Angela Sheltons of the United States. Overall, Angela uses her camera power responsibly. Although many argue that she abuses her power when interviewing these women, I would say that she does not have any responsibility to these women. I do not believe that Angela forces these women to do interviews with her about their lives (whether abusive or not). She may pry and keep calling them even after they have said no, but these women can hang up or not open their door, etc. Does a psychologist doing an research on victims of abuse have the responsibility to make sure that every single one of them goes into treatment. No. I believe that ultimately, people are responsible for themselves. For example, the anonymous Angela Shelton continued to talk to Angela and at the end of the movie it is revealed that she did start some sort of treatment.

The area that was problematic for me was that in the beginning of the film Angela Shelton says how she is interested in knowing about the "women of America". However, on her map it appears as though she only visits the Southeast of the United States, which leaves out a large majority of the other "Angela Sheltons". Also, the women of America are more than just half black and half white. They are also Asian, a mix of different races, handicapped, incarcerated, of a variety of religions, etc. She uses races as a dichotomy for women. She are not just white and black.... oh and one Muslim woman, who is awkwardly placed at the end of the film and sort of left out of telling a real story.

I feel that Angela wouldn't have been able to make this movie in a different way, but only because when she sets out on the road she doesn't know what story she will be telling. Possibly if I would have made the film, I would have tried to focus more on the other Angela Sheltons instead of sobbing about my own experience in a foster home.

Searching for Angela

The road functions in this film as Angela's path to her self-discovery. She meets women around the country who share her name, but represent women as a whole. The strength that these women display by speaking about their abuse give Angela inspiration to confront her father. This strength emerged from Angela's experience on the road, talking to other Angelas. I think the camera power is used well in this film. The women are represented in their unique environments and they seem very down-to-earth and real. I can't imagine having shared an experience as awful as some of these women have in their lives, so I can't say that I would have made this film differently. I think Angela met her goal in finding herself through finding out about women in general.

Searching for Angela Shelton

I thought, that in the movie Searching for Angela Shelton the stories were raw and powerful. However, I think the message that the audience recieved, was maybe somewhat different than that of what the director wanted. The road in this film is a connecting agent, bringing women together who have similiar stories and/or life experiences they have witnessed or gone through. The road opens up many lost memories, and many stories that bring back emotional feelings for all the Angelas'. Whether the Angela the director was talking to shared a similiar story or not of abuse, the director always seemed to share her story with the other Angela which obviously was going to negativley affect the other Angela. The road working as a connective agent played both positive and negative roles in this film. On the negative aspect, it opened up old wounds without offering a way to heal them. It also brought a selfish aspect to the director, making it seem like she was using these other women to cope with her own problem. However, on the positive side, it did unite people who have gone through similiar situations and let them know that there are other people out there like them.
Her use of the camera in this film is what brings the selfishness to the movie, for me. I liked how she would sit with a camera possibly on a tripod and spill her emotions, because thats raw, and real. However, I didn't like her use of the camera when she was interviewing the women. It was almost intrusive, unrealistic. She was using the camera to film the Angelas response to her own story, which in part made it quite uncomfortable.
If I were to remake this movie, I would definitely do things different. I would focus more on the Angela's stories and less on my own. I would also make sure these women were doing okay after bringing back these stories and reopening the memories. It didn't seem like the director did seemed as if she was only focused on her well-being (which she showed by cutting her shirt). This movie has a very touching story, I just think the way the director went about showing it was wrong and could have been done better.

Searching for Angela Shelton

Writing gives power. Telling your story to others,gives you power, and empowers others. This was the main point in one of the readings for this week.
Angela Shelton, the film maker, shared her story with many other women. She claimed to feel less alone because of this. There were only a few instances where her abuse of the camera was very noticeable to me.
She used it to enhance emotional qualities of the film. This was done by pairing certain things together like the phone conversation with the anonymous Angela and the thunderstorm. She did it another time when there was a ripped American flag and some facts about molesters and rapists going to prison- or more accurately how they don't get prosecuted. The last bit was when she said something about her father and then they flip to a sign on a chruch that makes a statement about being in denial about things. These were done throughout the movie to enhance it, but it also manipulates it into a more biased view of the movie. we don't get to make our own opinions really, we are learning her story and we see her discovering herself more, but that journey seemed to be incomplete at the end. She had a lot of issues to work through and it was interesting to see her do so through other Angela's.

February 24, 2008

Where art thou Angela?

Finally a road film worthy of my viewing! Finding Angela Shelton was a moving movie on many levels. Specifically, for the Angela's and their stories, but also for all women, especially those who have been abused in their lives. At the end of the film I wanted to call my parents and tell them “thank you� for giving me such a special childhood that was free of that type of pain.
The road is used in this film as the connection between the Angela’s. Despite the fact that they all of the same name, Angela uses the road to reach out, both physically and emotionally, to all these different women around the country. Also, I think the road gives the film more purpose. Angela could have discovered all this information out by talking on the phone to the individual Angela’s, but who would want to watch that movie?
The story is supposed to be about all women. Even though the sample size was small, Angela was looking to break the silence on some important issues and show America the pain some women are going through on a daily basis. Also, the other story being told along side is the story of the narrator. Angela uses the other women’s stories to fill in the blanks on her own traumatic experiences.
In the beginning I was uncomfortable watching the film, but I think that was the point. The conversations the Angela’s were having are about private issues, and the narrator puts it right in your face. I do not think that the narrator abuses her camera power. It made the film more interesting and the images and shots were used to invoke more feeling. Although some were cheesy (the tattered American flag) she was trying to invoke emotion within the viewer.
If I were Angela, I would make the film truthfully. We discussed in class about the fact that the narrator Angela was an actress, and that some of the film may have been set up, which was disappointing to me after being moved by her piece. So, if I was Angela I would make the film truthfully, and if she did that, that I would only change one other thing. I would show her father’s face. I understand it was probably a legal issue, but I would have wanted to humiliate that man.

Searching for Angela Shelton

Angela had all the power in what the camera showed and I think that she did a good job of letting the other Angela Shelton's be heard. She uses the camera to show how other women around the U.S. have suffered from abuse also and she didn't start out thinking that abuse would be the main thing that most of the women had in common but that is what made the trip have a stronger meaning. The only times that she might have abused the camera power were when she was doing things like laying in a puddle in a parking lot and when she was throwing a fit but for the most part the shots taken by the camera were justified. There weren't any times of the movie that really bothered me because I feel that she got a lot of people to open up in front of the camera which is a huge thing especially since some of those women hadn't ever told anyone else before. The road is used as a journey where each stop builds up more and more courage and at the end Angela goes to see her dad. The other women her feel like she wasn't the only one and she was searching to actually find herself. The road is to discover what others are going through around the United States and how they cope with being abused in the past.
If I was Angela, I wouldn't really make the film differently but I would have ended it differently with some statistics about abuse in the U.S. and maybe some advice to the audience but that is all so it is somewhat educational. I believe that she accomplished she needed to though some of her words may have been biased, the message was still clear. the message seemed to be that you are never alone and it does feel better sometimes if you talk about what happened to you because if you keep it in, emotions build up and you may become depressed. She gave the women hope because she let them be heard and she told them what happened to her so they bonded and then she went on her way.

Angela Shelton - Camera Power

In the film Searching for Angela Shelton, the road played a role in helping the narrative along. The road did not function in the same way as in the other road films as the symbol of freedom, but it did represent a sort of freedom and liberation for Angela. For Angela, going on the road was the first step in finding herself and liberating herself of the horror of her past and finally moving forward - just as she moves forward on the road. Indeed the road can be symbolic of her journey and uncovering her story as well as other women's stories along the way.

I found this film to be very powerful and the stories that were revealed over the course of the movie, especially the main Angela's story, were very shocking and a bit disturbing as well. I think that the camera captured these stories very well and played a passive role to just watch these stories and Angela's unfold as they traveled on the road. As for abuse of camera power, I think that Angela did not abuse camera power but used it to effectively express a certain feeling or emotion to the audience. I also do not think she took advantage of the other Angela Sheltons - they were all willing to partake in the making of the film which helped to uncover Angela's story and help her overcome her past. Some students felt that she used them irresponsibly but in the end she did do follow ups on each story which shows that she took the time to make sure they were doing well. Either way I think that she used the camera wisely to portray certain emotions and capture the people she visited. I don't think that I would use the camera any differently or change much about the film.

Searching for Female Experiences

In Searching for Angela Shelton the road functions as a path of discovery, that is Angela's way of self-discovery. The road is symbolic for change, growth, progess. Angela Shelton was an abused child and because of the trauma she had endured she did not feel like she knew herself fully. She travels the country meeting other women with the same name only to discover that what emerges from the road is very powerful: human connection. The original Angela Shelton is inspired and moved by the women's stories. Over half of the interviewees had been raped, molested or assaulted in their lifetime. One of the most important aspects of what emerges from the road and Shelton's self-discovery is the power of unification between women across the country. Angela uses the camera power responsiblity by highlighting the strengths of the women she interviews (i.e. indepence of women who left abusive husbands and went on to purchase a home of their own). There isn't a single alteration that I would make to this film. I thought that it was inspiring and a beautifully arranged film. The juxtaposition of the music with the camera angles and techniques motivated me to think about the content and form of the film. What is discussed in the film are issues that are very important for women on a daily basis. Creating a film that uncovers these taboo subjects is a step in the right direction.

Angela's Film

In Searching for Angela Shelton the road functions as a means of discovery. Angela is traveling around the country interviewing other women as a way of finding herself. She claims that she is trying to unify women but instead appears to use the open road as a means to share her story with others. She takes to the road to fix what her dad and step brother did and confront them as well as bring into light the violence women experience (rape/battery/molestation).

The story underlying this documentary is that of Angela. Throughout her travels we learn more and more about her childhood and the sexual harassment that her and her step-sister experienced at the hands of her father, step-mother and step-brother. Angela confronts her step-brother and is able to reconcile their past and build a foundation for a strong relationship in the future. She also gets a chance to confront her father who does nothing but deny what she claims happened in the past.

Continue reading "Angela's Film" »

American Women

In this film, the road functions as a personal journey for Angela Shelton and a way for her to meet women from all over America, who happen to share her name. For her, this slice of the American population serves as an example of American women, and a way for her to try to find her personal peace after her traumatic childhood of sexual abuse. She uses these Angela Sheltons as a way for her to connect with other women, to tell her story, and to hear their stories. For her, this is a way of healing/therapy in hearing of the experiences that these women have faced, and the strength that they have found to get them through the hard times they've been through.
From the road emerges a sense of understanding and hope for women in general. Many women who are abused think that no one else goes through what they're experiencing, when the truth is that its far more common than most people acknowledge. This film, and the journey that Angela takes, show that women from all walks of life face the problem of abuse, and helps to provide hope and strength to women who have faced these problems.
Personally, i don't think Angela used her power responsibly. In my opinion, she focused far too much on herself and didn't go deep enough into the stories of the other women that she interacted with. It seems that in every interview she had, it came down to her saying, "oh, this is what happened to me," and the focus quickly shifted away from these other women and their experiences. I understand her talking about her abuse was a way to make these women more comfortable talking about the abuse they have faced, but it seems to be that she overdid it and took too much away from some of their stories. Had i been in her shoes, i would've tried to make the film more focused on the other Angela Sheltons, instead of staying so focused on herself. Not to say that the film shouldn't contain her story, but going more in depth with the other women would've been much more effective in my book.

The Road as Facilitator

My initial impression of this movie was that Angela was using her control of the camera to make a film completely about herself and portray it as being about women in America. Then the more I thought about it I realized that it truly is about herself and the other women are simply helping her along her journey. It required a bit of thought about the movie to be alright with the fact that it was all about her becuase well the title is "Searching for Angela Shelton" which implies looking for herself and not telling the stories of other women. I had to change my first thought of what the story is. I thought the story was about women around the country and their similarities and strengths and such when in fact the story is the emotional and physical journey of this one Angela Shelton. It is a story about her healing and learning and growing as a person.

The road in this film is a physical representation of an emotional journey as well as a facilitator for that emotional journey. Angela set out on this journey and made this film for a reason. It is a reasonable assumption that she made the physical journey because the emotional journey required the movement and meeting the different people in order for it to happen. Sometimes it is easier for the human mind to accept and allow change emotionally and mentally when the person's surroundings and physical environment is changing and because of this the road served as the different physical surroundings that allowed the emotional journey to tkae place.

Searching For Angela'a Closure

"This is how I would define a feminine textual body: as a female libidinal economy, a regime, energies, a system of spending not necessarily carved out by culture. A feminine textual body is recognized by the fact that it is always endless, without ending: there's no closure, it doesn't stop, and it's this that very often makes the feminine text difficult to read." Cixous (p. 53)

Angela Shelton's Searching for Angela Shelton follows much of the logic of this quotation, at least as much as surmised from the classroom discussion.

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Road Footage as Emotional Fodder

Although Angela’s story focuses on Angela’s personal narrative interwoven with the stories and dialogue of others, the camera seems to favor the road (or Angela). The camera uses the visual media the road provides as filler or as an emphasis for bits of conversation and voice over that have no visual footage of its own. In this way, the road becomes auxiliary and its visual inclusion is almost unnecessary for the advancement of the story. It is assumed that Angela is mobile, due to the fact that she introduces each character by their name and the city they live in. However, the road footage is often used to enhance a mood Angela hopes to achieve, such as the use of rainy and muddled traffic jams when speaking with the “anonymous Angela�. Although the story is situated on the road, its presence does not drive the narrative, but instead is put to use as an illustrator of mood. The visual landscape the road showcases provides Angela with a cornucopia of loaded images (thunderstorms, trailer parks, sunshine poking out through rain clouds).

Angela’s use of the still photograph interspersed with visual footage was an effective means to convey emotion; however, her narcissistic manner of being in every image detracted from movie’s potential. The whole point of the film was that there were so many women with the same name, so why did we have to see so much of just one?

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Angela Shelton

The stories and the way in which they were filmed and portrayed in Searching For Angela Shelton, I thought was very well done. It can and was argued that Angie was just using this film to get her story across, but I felt almost the opposite. She was using her story to make other women feel more comfortable talking about taboo topics. Though there were some instances where I did think Angie may have stepped over a boundry, and kind of lost control of her project. Though I don't think she is really to be blamed, she never claimed to be a therapist, she was just a woman trying to help other women. I think at times she didn't really realize what she was getting herself into. So in that way I think she may have abused her use of the camera, but not intentionally. Overall though I thought the movie was filmed very well, and took special care in small details. Most importantly her objective of the movie, I believe was accomplished. Not only did she and others move forward in their lives, she also caused us as viewers to be aware of what is going on around us. It is a topic that is not brought to light often, and is usually just swept under the rug. It really showed women of abuse that they are not alone, and that there is help out there for them.

Searching for Angela Shelton

In this film, the road functions differently than in the other films we have watched. The road functions as a way of connecting all of the Angela Shelton’s with one another. The road is not the primary subject matter in Searching for Angela Shelton, and the story centers not around the road, but around Angela Shelton’s abusive childhood and her personal search for answers from her family. What emerges, as a result of each meeting with a different Angela, is a commentary about the serious issue of abuse towards women in the United States. I would argue that Angela does not use her camera power responsibly in this film. While her attempt to turn the film into a story about women as a collective body who need to band together and change the problem of abuse in our country, it seems like her attempts to do this were overshadowed by her own personal story and tragedy. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, she edited the film in such a way that undermined the other women’s stories by continually interrupting their interviews with details about what happened to her when she was young. The phone calls she made to all the Angela Shelton’s were reckless because she jumped into conversations about abuse with no regard for what wounds she could be opening up. It seemed dangerous to take no precautions when calling all of the different women. Like we discussed in lecture, an assurance that she was leaving these women with at least information about where they could go to talk to someone if they needed to, would have helped. I thought it was even more irresponsible that she did not incorporate all of the social, economic, cultural, political, etc. factors that have significant bearing on what some of the women went through. It tended to simplify issues of abuse down to the mere actions of a man. While the intentions were there to make a film that shed light upon the issue of abuse towards women, the way in which it was filmed simplified a complex issue. I would have made the story less about my own personal “quest for answers� and would have used my story more as a starting point to open up critical debate on the issue. More discussion about solutions and talking with people who were making a conscious effort to form solutions to the problem would be included as well.

Angela Shelton

As Angela Shelton (the film maker) travelled around America looking for other Angela Sheltons, a story began to tell itself. I feel that in a way, the road allowed the story to progress. With each new stop Angela found herself at, a new piece of her own story was discovered, as well as a little, tiny piece of another Anegla Shelton's story. I kind of felt that Angela Shelton may have used the other women's stories in a kind of selfish way. Everytime another woman would share something, she would always bring it back to her own personal abuse. I undertsand that she may have been trying to get them to open up more freely, but there were instances where the women were already telling their stories and she would come in again with her own story; almost like a distraction to me.

While we were having the discussion in class after the documentary, another student raised the question of what happened to these other Angela Shelton's AFTER the camera was turned off and the crew returned to the road to find another Angela Shelton? Did they receive therapy? Did they get the kind of help one deserves after reliving very tramatic experiences that they had kept bottled up until that day? I certainly hope so. If not, that is one way I would have made the movie differently. Another way would be to focus more on the other women's stories a bit more. When I first heard about the concept of the documentary (seeing how all these different Angela Shelton's represent all women in America), I was excited to watch it! If I were to remake the film, I would try and stay more true to the intended project.

February 23, 2008

Searching For Angela Shelton

So far in this class, I enjoyed this film the most. I felt that the camera did an excellent job at portraying Angela's story. I felt the movie was perfectly told as well as perfectly filmed. Everything just went together very nicely. The camera's still shots and tri-pod positioning, at times, added a lot to the effect it was having on the viewer. This was a documentary film finding all of the Angela Shelton’s in America and that's exactly what the film showed: a documentary. If I were Angela Shelton I would not film this movie any other different way. The male gaze was not a part of this film and I felt this was the first film where the lead woman was actually successful at being independent and caring for herself. The road in this film was a journey to success for Angela Shelton. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. In my opinion, it was an excellent example of a woman's road film.

"Searching for Angela Shelton"

The road becomes Angela Shelton's journey across America to not only discover herself but to relate to other women in the country. As she soon finds the Angie Sheltons she spoke to, over half have been raped or sexually abused; she begins to show the audience the real connection between women cross-country. Throughout the film, it's clear that Angela Shelton is really trying to discover herself more so than finding out about women across America. However, she does make good connections with those Angies she talks with.
I think Angela definitely uses her camera power to tell her story. The film is about her journey; her discovery of herself and what matters to her. She is encouraged by other women on the road as she relates to all the other Angela Sheltons and finally realizes the importance of allowing other women to open up about their past abuses and hurts.
If I was Angela Shelton, I wouldn't have made this film differently. I think she did a great job of discovering other women across the country and making a relation between women as a whole. Women should be sticking together. Angela Shelton used this documentary to tell a story about herself, discover herself, and give a brief overview on other women in the United States.

Angela Shelton

In the film Searching for Angela Shelton the road functions as a sort of pathway for Angela to come face to face with her past as a means of finding the closure she needs to live her life happily. By meeting all of the other women that she came in contact with, Angela was able to relate to each of them in a way that helped her find the emotions and the grief that she needed to release in order to move on with her life and really be happy with who she is. I feel as if Angela’s journey served as a helpful tool for each of the other Angelas that she met along the way as well. Once their skepticism about the whole situation subsided they were able to open up to Angela in way for each of them to learn from each other.
I find that Angela’s use of the camera does a really good job of telling her story because it doesn’t add anything extra to the story and it doesn’t leave anything out. Depending on who Angela was talking to at a certain point in the film a different camera style was used to further the affect of how a particular Angela was feeling. When a face to face interview was going on the camera was really clear and it portrayed each story with clarity by focusing on the person that was telling the story. This gave the viewers a kind of insight when it came to watching facial expressions and emotions. On the other hand, when Angela was talking to the Anonymous Angela the camera used to create a blurry picture that seemed to jump around from road sign to road sign, which helps viewers interpret the emotions and feelings that were being portrayed by this person.
If I were Angela I don’t think I would have made this film differently. I believe that using a simple camera with few visual effects was really affective in portraying the issue that she was trying to expose. I believe that Angela’s goal was to reach out to other women while she was on a journey herself, and I think she did a very good job in doing so.

Breaking the Silence

In "Searching for Angela Shelton", Angela Shelton the director, starts the documentary explaining her need to self-examine and find her own identity. I believe this part was missed by many of the viewers in class that day and therefore the film was misinterpreted as the director eventually losing sight of her goal; when in reality I believe that her film achieved what it was meant to, her finally getting closure on her traumatic abusive childhood. One of her mantras was "everything happens for a reason", something Angela and the other women she met firmly backed in their life stories.
Throughout the film, Angela travels the road in search of other women and with their insight and much catharsis, Angela felt more united with the Angela Sheltons, thus meaning all 'women in America', whom she encountered. This point was poignantly refuted by one Angela (from Queens I think), who questioned whether or not women really are united. I found this to be rather ironic because it went against the goal the director was trying to put forth in the film; the strength and unity of women. I believe this film is on the right path to uniting women and it is important for women to see because there were many uplifting stories that could help women find their inner strength to fight back and unite.
The road can be viewed as both a tool for uniting women because it was how the Angela Sheltons were brought together, but also seen as useless in that her RV roadtrip didn't have much to do with the narrative other than guiding the audience along her travel route.
I was surprised to hear all the conflicting responses to this film because I found it to be refreshing from the other films we've watched in that there were first hand experiences and I think the director was really out there to help other women break their silence and finally breath free from their tormenting stories. I don't know what the director went through with editing and whatnot, but I am curious as to the scripting that went into the making and how much was edited to make certain scenes work. Other than those few things, I don't think that with those experiences Angela had, I would have made the film any differently; we all bring different aspects to the table and everything that made the director an Angela Shelton made her make her film in exactly that way.

Connecting through the road

Searching for Angela Shelton is an interesting journey on the road, that doesn't really use the road as a main focus point in the story. Although not a main focus, the road is important in the fact that it functions a connecting point for all the Angela Sheltons to share their life stories. In class we discussed how issues of "normality" apply to the claims Angela makes about the other Angelas and women in general. All of the women were potrayed at heterosexual women, but that's not Angela's fault. It just happens that's how the other women were. Finding the other Angela's still showed us a range of different personalities and life stories. Another factor that has to be taken into consideration is the last name Shelton. Typically, this name is a caucasion or African American's last name. This limits the amount of women she will be exposed to. What emerges from this story is Angela's self-examing gaze which leads to other women's self-examing and finding support in other's that share a dark secret. What seemed to happen with Angela is that she found closure in sharing her story with other women and finding out other women had demons, just life her. It seems that in the end many women found closure, or at least help, as well as Angela. One thing I think this video might inspire is other's who are lost and it might help them find themselves.

I do think Angela did leave some people hanging and with unanswered questions. It might have been helpful to have a consultant or therapist along the journey to help those other Angela's with issues.

...Hopefully this doesn't seem too rambling, i'm sick and this all is blurry, sorry :(

February 22, 2008

All the Angelas

..."Women must write women as man writes man" (The laugh of the Medusa. Cixols). The way in which Angela uses her experiences to unite other women with similar experiences I think is very profound and has a very positive impact. I also think that every director films in such a way that their message comes across therefore, I think everyone manipulates the camera power. I do feel that there were a few instances where Angela was not controlling situations very well like when she was on the phone with anonymous Angelas and the issues became so painful and hard and the women hung up. These situations are very dangerous because now who will they talk about with these things? I also feel that Angela used a few moments to unwind like when she was speaking with the woman about her foster experiences but that is all a part of her story and is some type of pain that a lot of the other Angelas could possibly relate to. Another issue that concerned me a bit was the fact that a man was filming the documentary because technically that would mean they were constantly under the male gaze. As a documentary it seems like there is less importance in noting each person's gender but more concentration on the ultimate story and what is being achieved but for such an intense and particular issue I find it a struggle for the man to be the camera person. Many of these women were abused by men and were in pain because of men so for them to speak freely about such painful issues and then repeat them when a man is there I imagine would be extremely difficult. Think of rape victims for example and how they must repeat their experience to a police officer and then again in court. I don't believe at all that where we are at today in society that this is sexist but rather mandatory if women are to ever become equal. Unlike one of the women in the class I feel that Angela (the director) was completely unbiased and not sexist at all towards other men especially considering the fact that she wants to continue a healthy relationship with her half brother and that she was willing to go all the way to South Carolina to confront her fucked in the head father-sorry for the language. I think if Angela's point of the movie was to try and unite women and let them know that they are not alone nor are they rugs to be stepped on then she definitly succeeded.

"Searching for Angela Shelton" use and abuse

Within the film Searching for Angela Shelton, the road serves as a unifying agent to connect all Angela Shelton’s throughout the US. In particular, the road is a way for the director, Angela Shelton, to provide linearity for the story she wants to tell. The road is a way not only to connect Angela Shelton’s, but to provide a connection of stories that prove to be linked to each other, like the cities of the US where all the Angela Shelton’s live linked through roads. The main story that the director Angela Shelton wants to tell, and the story that links many of the Angela Shelton’s around the US, is a story of abuse towards women, and child abuse, within the United States. Another aspect of the women’s/child abuse sector within the story of the documentary, is how majority of those who were abused, their abuser were never charged and how the strength within each woman abused, severed as a key point in their lives. Within the road, emotions and strength emerge within not only the Director and her struggles, but within each road stop, the strength and unity of each Angela Shelton proves critical for the overall documentary. However, as strong as the story and people within Searching for Angela Shelton were, the director Angela Shelton did not take the responsibility of the camera fully. Not only did she open up old wounds of many of her correspondents and interviewees of the film and leave them to fester, the audience is unaware of how she dealt with each individual as she caused high emotions to arise, such as providing counseling. In addition, herself as the director took advantage of her camera power by having her own will for a story to get in the way of who she was interviewing by getting whatever she wanted out of them at any cost. If I were to make this film, I would have in a drastically different way. Not only would I have focused more on the various Angela Shelton’s of the US and the stories they have to tell, I would have also focused less on my own story, as what Angela Shelton did, and focus more on the overall story connected all Angela Shelton’s over the US; abuse of women. The story connecting all the Angela Shelton’s is what is key to the documentary, and if I was given the opportunity to make this film, I would have made that the center of the film instead of my own will to tell a personal story.

Abuse of the other Angelas

The road in the movie represents the journey for Angela Shelton, both personal and in finding these other women. The farther she travels along the highways of the U.S., the closer she comes to her father and confronting him with memories of her childhood experiences. Also, she spends something like 57 days on the road, which is shown as she goes from Angela to Angela, so it represents the physical journey that she undertakes in order to find all the other Angela Sheltons. As the days add up, Angela Shelton opens up more and more and it becomes easier for her to tell her story and for the other women to open up to her. The road makes her bolder, and she uses the road as a symbol for her personal journey, especially through the use of billboards, church signs, bumper stickers, and many other items that allow her to "create" something deeper than what is actually there- she allows the things she found while on the road to help make her journey seem more symbolic.
I think that the camera was used responsibly, as the person filming had no role in the film, and therefore had no impact on the women's stories. It was certainly interesting to hear all of their stories, though trying to make a statistic out of them in terms of how many of them out of all of the women interviewed had been abused was stretching it a little. I think that she should have been more up front with the women before she started filming them, maybe by telling them what she was actually doing, not simply going out and finding all the other Angela Sheltons, since this was clearly a personal journey that she was making for personal reasons- to tell her story. Using other people's stories to tell your own is not exactly an admirable thing to do, but if she had changed anything, it would no longer be her story, so no, I don't think I would have done anything differently. In order to accomplish a goal like that, one that is so personal, you can't change it- it has to be the way you envisioned it to be.

February 21, 2008

Abusing Angela Shelton

"It is time to liberate the New woman from the Old by coming to know her - by loving her for getting by, for getting beyond the Old without delay, by going out ahead of what the New Woman will be, as an arrow quits the bow with a movement that gathers and separates the vibrations musically, in order to be more than her self" (Cixous, The Laugh of Medusa, 878). This quotation, to me, exemplifies what Angela Shelton wanted her movie to be about: a story about the emergence of the new, strong, unsilenced front of united women from the old repressed and singular victim. She set out on a journey to discover herself as well as the women who share her name, but the name doesn't matter. What this journey created was a look at the silence women force themselves to undergo, the strength women have in the face of tragic, abusive events, and the underlying bond of femaleness that connects all women. The road in this film creates a physical connection for these women. Throughout the film, Angela travels in her RV, talking to various Angela Sheltons across the country, and as these women give their testimonies, the camera focuses on the road: the highways, the scenery, the RV passing through each place on its poignant journey. The road becomes a vessel for the new woman, and unites all those who have been silenced, or those who live in fear. Unity is an important theme is this film. One Angela Shelton, during her testimony, drives this home: "He couldn't get anything because my friend did not leave me...all of us females should stick together. Unity. That's what we don't have."
When giving testimonies, the camera is completely on the Angela Shelton, showing the importance of every woman's story, that no woman is "lower than a fucking dog" as the anonymous Angela Shelton constantly said. The way in which the camera kept an intimate distance with each Angela illustrated that this movie was supposed to be about every woman's story, a theme that seemed to change in the second half of the film.

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Finding Angela

Part of the purpose for the film is to use the Angela Shelton's of the country to represent all American women. The road then serves as not only filmmaker Angela Shelton's way to get to these different women, but a personal journey she takes to find peace within herself. She physically bridges the distance between herself and her family through the road and attempts to mend her emotional distance. The different shots of the road and different cities/states she travels through show the distance of her journey but also adds to the theme of representing women in America. You can be across the country from someone and still find common ground between your lives, such as what Angela did when speaking to the other Angela Sheltons.
The story is about filmmaker Angela Shelton trying to find herself and make peace with her past. By speaking with other Angela Sheltons she attempts to connect with women to heal herself. By chance many of the other women she speaks with have had abuse circumstances and through their conversations and meetings it is a form of therapy for filmmaker Angela Shelton. Her hope is that other women such as the ones she spoke with as well as those watching will find help in seeing the connection of the stories.
What emerges from the road is hope for Angela and other women. By meeting with women who have had similar abuse circumstances and hearing the struggle they dealt with gave Angela an opportunity to unload her past as well as speak/think about her future. Seeing the power of the women she met with was a very important and necessary thing for her to see, as well as others watching the film. Her journey is hard and emotional, but in the end she benefits knowing she can be okay because these women are okay. Also by speaking with anonymous Angela, it was her way to be the voice of strength and comfort not just for this woman but for herself as well.
I think she does use her camera responsibly. This is a documentary and a very emotional one at that. The camera allowed us into the lives of all of these courageous women as well as able to be on Angela's journey with her. The point was for Angela to help heal herself along this time on the road. That is exactly what she did through her camera.
If I were Angela Shelton I don't think I would change anything. Searching for Angela Shelton was her attempt to find herself and make peace with her life which was the focus of the documentary. Therefore, nothing would change. I think she successfully accomplished what she sought out to do.